Future of the left- Lexington 10th Anniversary -8/2/2019.

Note: Couldn’t find the banner for 8th 🙂

I first saw “ Future of the Left “ at the closing event for the Coronet Theatre  in Elephant and Castle in December 2017 and was duly impressed with the energy and musicianship ,especially the driving bass lines. In the live setting there duelling guitars and bass lines draw comparisons with “Gang of Four” or “Rage Against the Machine”. Not a bad thing I would say. Lyrically they have something to say as you would imagine but there is very often  underlying humour which I would say actually gives the songs greater longevity as opposed to being a pure dialectic rant, which could get old far more quickly and dated.

This was there second night at the Lexington in celebration of the Venues 10th Anniversary. Have to say I thought it had been a music venue forever. An intimate venue I was intrigued at how they would sound. The bass wasn’t quite as powerful as my last listening but they entertained an enthusiastic audience with 19 songs, drawn from numerous albums with a couple from upcoming new album “Christian Fitness”.

They played for approximately 80 minutes. Despite being around since 2006 they sound pretty fresh to my ears and attacked all songs with 100% enthusiasm. Despite maintaining a level of rawness in the live performance, having read a little about the band, they definitely have a level of perfectionism bubbling below the surface that belies this and is attributed to the vison of vocalist Andy Falkous.

In the current political landscape it’s interesting to consider their appeal based on the fact that they are clearly not apolitical. The crowd was pretty mixed from student types through to the smattering of fat white old blokes but perhaps the left leaning nature of the band will assist rather than hinder in the UK’s brave new political world.

Support was provided by “Right Hand, Left Hand” also from Wales who are clearly very competent multi-instrumentalists. But you can probably sense a” but” here in my tone as I am slightly giving faint praise.

I was talking to a marketing specialist this week who said to me that “you need to decide what market you’re going for and then what benefits and individual differentiation you bring to that market”. Unfortunately the same rules really apply in music and other than enjoying themselves (which I think is a justifiable end game and shouldn’t be underestimated) it wasn’t clear what they wanted to say. That was partly because their set was very instrumental biased with limited vocals.

This is my opinion and accept that to others ears this may have absolutely hit the spot and been the modern version of the old Punk D.I.Y ethic. But just a bit too much technology for me.

Overall a great venue, good entertainment and a headliner that left the audience wanting more. “Future of the Left “are an underrated and underappreciated band, they still have plenty of fire and play a high energy set. Look forward to the next time.

Set List (courtesy of Set list .com)

The Lord Hates a Coward

My Gymnastic Past

Miner’s Gruel

Arming Eritrea

The Limits of Battleships

Failed Olympic Bid

Manchasm

Eating for None

You Should Be Ashamed, Seamus

(mclusky cover)

Stand By Your Manatee

Gareth Brown Says

(mclusky cover)

How to Spot a Record Company

French Lessons / Singing of the Bonesaws / Lapsed Catholics / Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues

 

Three additional songs were unknown from the new album.

 

Architects at SSE Wembley-19/01/2019

Firstly a few words about the venue. I would not have chosen SSE Wembley as a great music venue. It’s vast and hanger like with insufficient toilets for the number of people and the bars and food are not great.

In current times everyone has to go through a metal detector to get in and I did notice on the way out that access is severely restricted, again I assume for security reasons.

But on the positive side it didn’t actually take long to get in to the standing area and the sound quality is actually very good but on the headliners set in some ways that album quality did make it sound a little lifeless.

Arrived at 7.30 and missed the second support “Polaris” from Australia so first band I saw were “Beartooth”. They had a good following in the hall and are hard-core post punk with a little bit of humour added in. They did a reasonable rendition of Ramones Blitzkrieg Bop on the album “Aggressive” (their second LP) and did a good job of warming the crowd, despite the cavernous venue.

Band changes were also reasonably efficient and “Architects” hit the stage about 9.15. I saw these guys’ couple of years back at Brixton O2, so they have clearly expanded their following since then (although there were empty seats). They had just released “All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us” and were touring shortly after the death of guitarist Tom Searle, one of the founding members, who died from skin cancer.

The Brighton based band clearly have a loyal following, this being their biggest headline to date, and possibly an unusual occurrence for a band of this musical genre.

Current album “Holy Hell” released in 2018 is inevitably a little bit more melodic as compared to the full on nihilism of “All our Gods…” The punters around me seemed to feel they played the better tracks from the new album with some older stuff such as “Naysayer” and “Gravedigger” and “Nihilist”. As is probably inevitable they featured the latest album heavily (See set list below)

They had a big light show to accompany the set and some serious pyrotechnics. Despite being about of a third of the way back in the standing area the heat was immediate and intense so it must have been singed eyebrows at the front.

  1. Death Is Not Defeat
  2. Modern Misery
  3. Nihilist
  4. Broken Cross
  5. Holy Hell
  6. Royal Beggars
  7. Gravedigger
  8. Mortal After All
  9. Downfall
  10. Naysayer
  11. These Colours Don’t Run
  12. A Match Made in Heaven
  13. Hereafter
  14. A Wasted Hymn
  15. Memento Mori

(Middle Section Only)

  1. Encore:
  2. Gone With the Wind
  3. Doomsday

“Our Girl” headlining at The Lexington as part of”The Line of Best Fit’s Celebration of New Music”-18/01/2019.

Back at the Lexington in January 2019 for first outing of the year. Headlined as “The Line of Best Fit ‘s Annual Celebration of New Music” it was the culmination of five nights of showcasing lesser known bands. I booked this randomly on the back of “Our Girl” headlining who were the key draw on the night. Knew they were female led indie band so didn’t expect it to be too taxing on the brain cells or auditory senses. However as often happens these days there were actually less punters there at the end than for the minor bands. Indeed I had to queue to get in although arriving just after 7.30.

So on to the music. First band “Black Country New Road” are to be honest the ones to watch. Already championed in the Windmill Pub scene in South London they are attracting attention. Here is a section of the recent review in Clash music  blog available at  https://www.clashmusic.com/news/listen-black-country-new-road-athens-france  “Pierre Hall puts it best: “Every song twisted and turned in ways you didn’t expect, and lyrically, Isaac had this whole The Fall meets (William) Burroughs cut-ups thing going on, the lyrics seemed to tumble out of him – but they were clever and acerbic in equal measure. It was captivating to watch.”

The songs are self-contained stories and reflections on the current state of the world with universally recognised references to the fascination of social media and the world of Netflix.

They are young band, led by a charismatic front man, in the tradition of the anti-fashion music hero. Having never seen or heard anything of them before I did think that you had to be that young to get away with some of the intensity and pretentiousness on show but that rock and roll I guess.  As per the quote above you can think “The Fall” or “Velvet Underground “or avant-garde Jazz, due to the Saxophonist and lesser extent violin.

But I do like the element of experimentation and sheer gutsy attempt to produce something a bit different. Also despite some of the meanderings the rhythm section keeps it on track with a more traditional rock feel. I would seek them out again and musically they can only grow further as they give the impression of being interested in honing their craft.

Second band were “Squid” who are a POP band who I’m sure on hearing a few times infectious guitar led memorable songs. They also are a little unusual as the drummer is the main vocalist. When I did a little research there songs sounded more synthesiser led but in the live setting the guitars were stronger. So in order to give you a feel for the sound the guitars were sometimes heading towards “Dire Straits “ or even at points “Status Quo as they enjoyed themselves and rocked out. But may be that’s just my interpretation of their sound and how my ears were processing it.

Next band and last before headliners were “Gently Tender”. Vocalist kept the attention of the room with songs mainly exploring the more joyous end of relationships. With the vocalists fairly high register they reminded me a of a more optimistic version of “The Magic Numbers” mixed with a bit of “Veronica Falls “ from a few years ago. A really competent set but not sure they had a real USP (Unique selling point) and in a very crowded market I don’t know how far they might go (maybe they don’t care?). Funnily enough just doing a bit of last minute research for my blog and it appears they are made up of ex members of “Palma Violets”. Didn’t see that at the time but now I’ve just listened to the voice there it is. Wow. And by the way they are extremely ambitious they are on record as saying.

As mentioned previously the place was really crowded up to this point but possibly due to the lateness of the hour the crowd had thinned a bit by 10.30. “Our Girl “once they got started played for about 40 minutes and in this intimate venue sounded like a band on the indie side of the spectrum. Lead singer and guitarist Soph Nathan (who is also in “The Big Moon”) uses the guitar to alliterate her vocals in the live setting to greater effect I would say than on record. They are heavier musically and that’s there edge I would say as on first hearing by the un-initiated you could say why the fuss.

But as an observer the audience were enthusiastically grooving along and there were a few comments after on the stairwell by some about the best band they had ever seen. They are gaining a lot of critical acclaim and are darlings of BBC Radio 6.Comparisons to certain aspects of the “Pixies” sound have been made such as the juxtaposition of loud and quiet passages. Also “Breeders” and “Nirvana” (gently) in the influences here possibly I would say .They sound tight as a band and the rhythm section provide a solid background to the grungy guitar sound that dominates the musicality of the band.

I have of course performed my normal trick here of “bigging up” some of the supports and being slightly less enthusiastic about the headliner. That’s just life I guess and probably a very bad personality trait of mine.

In reality as always you have to approach these events with an open mind and I suppose it does as always depends where you are on your musical journey. Again the test is probably not to try to compare too much but just enjoy it for what it is. And just maybe you’re listening to your next musical hero.

If you haven’t been to the Lexington as a venue it’s one of the better smaller venues for atmosphere, ability to see and beer prices.

Stick To Your Guns – The Dome-14/12/2018

 

This is my last gig of 2018 (maybe) so Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year.

I had been looking forward to this evening. I saw “Stick to your Guns” (STYG) about two years ago supporting “Architects” at Brixton O2. They had strong stage presence and got a lively reception from the early evening audience on that occasion. I was hopeful of another energy packed evening.

It has to be said that we weren’t to be disappointed. The Dome is a good medium sized venue and with a new PA and stage this year really packs a punch. So it was well suited to the music on offer which was pretty hardcore. The audience were happy to match the bands energy levels and I can’t think of another gig I’ve been to, where the relatively young audience, gave all three bands 100% participation.

STYG were playing two nights and the second took place downstairs on the smaller stage. My eldest son went to the second night so I have included a couple of crowd pictures which I think were representative of the pandemonium on both nights. It certainly wasn’t a country for old men so I stayed to the side and was just was amazed no one was seriously hurt as people literally somersaulted into the assembled punters.

At the end of the gig as the crowd dispersed a very slippery floor emerged. Glad I didn’t have to sort that mess out.

Anyway back to the show. First band were “Employed to Serve” who set the tone swearing at the crowd to join in. Lead by a female vocalist, which is a bit unusual for this genre of music they played full throttle for 30 minutes.  A UK band, the vocalist growls and screams with the best of them as they smashed through the songs. No change of texture here and even though I had done a bit of research I didn’t recognise any songs specifically. But I’m not sure that’s the point. It’s just a wave of aggression washing over you and taking you in. I bought a T shirt on the strength of the performance, possibly because few people will know who they are and I like to support what is clearly a young and up and coming band.

Next band were “Counterparts “who had a bigger following at the Dome. The crowd really got into full enjoyment mode with numerous crowd surfers clambering on stage to throw themselves back into hopefully the supportive arms of their fellow gig goers. Hailing from Ontario they are a mature sounding band both the musically and age wise (formed in 2007). Categorised as melodic hardcore in the live setting again it was full on thrash from start to finish. From a historical point of view the lead singer is the only original band member left, apropos nothing, although these heavier bands do seem to go through quite a few changes.

Set List (courtesy of Setlist.fm

  1. Monument
  2. Bouquet
  3. No Servant of Mine
  4. Stranger
  5. Witness
  6. Swim Beneath My Skin
  7. Thieves
  8. Choke
  9. You’re Not You Anymore
  10. Burn
  11. The Disconnect

 

After another quick changeover STYG were up and running and again didn’t disappoint. There was a bit of banter between songs. At one point vocalist Jesse Barnett started a bit of a political diatribe on the state of the world and politics. When he said that he was aware of what was going on in the UK a spontaneous chorus of “Oh Jeremy Corbyn” started up. It was quite funny. STYG are a band that have a strong political stance, which is the subject of most of their material. At one point Jesse said that we do this for the love because we don’t make much money. I’m sure that’s true and at this point in their career they are unlikely to make a big breakthrough having formed way back in 2003. They sing about uncomfortable truths with a political or social message.

Not sure how long they played but they left without encore after a very energetic set with almost 50%  of songs from the last album “True View” which I recognised but the remainder were die-hard fan pleasers from back in the day.

Great night out and felt suitably cleansed after having my eardrums battered for over two hours in total.

Set list (courtesy of Setlist.fm)

  1. What Choice Did You Give Us?
  2. We Still Believe
  3. The Sun, The Moon, The Truth: “Penance of Self”
  4. Owed Nothing
  5. Such Pain
  6. 3 Feet From Peace
  7. Against Them All
  8. Empty Heads
  9. Through the Chain Link
  10. The Reach for Me: “Forgiveness of Self”
  11. Nothing You Can Do to Me
  12. Doomed By You
  13. Married to the Noise
  14. Amber
  15. Nobody

You Me At Six-Take Off Your Colours Tour-Brixton Academy-30/11/2018

Had a good night out at Brixton Academy. Officially sold out the O2 was busy but not absolutely heaving. The crowd was pretty good natured and of a younger demographic, I think the main concert goer here was predominantly female and reliving their early teenage crush for the guys in “You Me At Six”.

Not a band I’ve ever listened to I was there on free ticket courtesy of one of my son’s girlfriends who was a fan of the lead singer, Josh, back in the day.

Support was delivered by” Xcert”, (on their fourth album) who hail from Scotland I believe, were competent and rocky enough to get the early crowd on their side and clapping along.

Second support were the mighty “Marmozets” who powered through a 30 minute set but I felt were let down a bit by the quality of the PA. Curse of Brixton I think that has seriously afflicted a few bands I have seen there before at this venue.

Headliners came on at 9.15, had a stepped, extravagantly backlit  and clearly very expensive stage set , and just launched into song after song which by the audience reaction were all what they had come to see. First song “Fast Forward” is probably the most energetic track both lyrically and musically on the latest album. The band are a bit heavier in the live setting compared to their recording style, although the latest album “VI”  sees them moving into more pop territory and experimenting with a new sound in general. Perhaps the pains of growing old or search for larger audiences. Always difficult to know if this will be a springboard to new fans or a turn off for the old fans fuelled by nostalgia.

Again although being predominantly millennial there were some obvious teenagers in the crowd so possibly they have manged to cross over generations.

As mentioned they did stop for a few words occasionally but for 90 minutes they ploughed on. Not having listened to the back catalogue before the gig it was difficult to say if there were any real stand out numbers but everything on offer was gratefully accepted by the audience and I just let it wash over me and get absorbed. They did remind me of a boy band that had been infused with a heavier vibe and I would say despite being English they are in the vein of “Fall out Boy” and associated acts but without the same overblown melodic hooks in their songs. Perhaps again a good thing for longevity as their songs are slightly more subtle.

They are obviously currently popular as they have added a third date at Brixton due to demand.

Set list courtesy of setlist.fm.

  1. Fast Forward
  2. Lived a Lie
  3. Reckless
  4. Loverboy
  5. Back Again
  6. Night People
  7. Fresh Start Fever

(Tour debut)

  1. Cold Night
  2. Stay With Me
  3. Give
  4. 3AM
  5. Take on the World
  6. Save It for the Bedroom
  7. I O U
  8. Bite My Tongue

Encore

  1. Room to Breathe
  2. No One Does It Better
  3. Straight to My Head
  4. Underdog

They played songs from all six albums but only one from the Anniversary album“Take off your Colours “which may have been different from other nights on the tour but I think it was well curated and the different styles of album merged seamlessly on the night. Good time had by all that attended I would say.

The Damned-Evil Spirits Tour-Shepherds Bush-23/11/2018

The Damned are one of my all time favourites having seen them three times in the period up to their first anniversary back in June 1977. I left them at that point and didn’t see them again until two/three years ago when having a sentimental twinge I revisited.

It’s clear they have a certain loyal following that has followed them throughout the period and it was evident at the O2 Shepherds Bush they have fans who were also picked up in the 80’s and 90’s.

They also played three or four tracks off the latest album “Evil Spirits” which has received critical acclaim and it could be argued takes them a world away from their original modus operandi, producing music that they had originally railed against. These songs were delivered with fresh enthusiasm.

The world moves full circle even if it has taken 42 years. This has been a yearly pilgrimage for me over the last few years and I wasn’t really in the right head space this time around so ended up only staying for the first half of the set. I guess due to boredom of playing the same old songs they have often re-arranged the classics which is understandable but you know what its like –people want to hear the classics.

In terms of quality and stage craft they feel like a big band and are arguably the only band of their time that can get such a crowd to turn out year after year. It does help that they seem to have pictures in various attics with the Captain now trundling towards 65.

I’m sure if you had asked them where they would be at the first anniversary gig at the Marquee they wouldn’t have thought touring all this time later I don’t suppose.

Set list –Courtesy of setlist.fm

(Love cover)

 

I ended up missing a couple of my favourites ie “New Rose” (in my top 10 songs of all time) and the great cover of “Alone again Or”

But there’s always next year as I don’t see them winding down anytime soon.

Support on the night was provided by real old school punks Johnny Moped. Johnny ably backed by a solid workmanlike crew hasn’t been distracted by fashion or a desire to develop too far from the original 2. Minute 30 second format of many original punk singles.

They received a warm welcome for the crowd with classics such as “No One” and the classic “Incendiary device””, which in the current climate probably seems more outrageous than back in the day when it was a bit of a comic interlude.

10 songs, 30 minutes and gone.

Overall it was a real old school night out and there is certainly a demographic that will still get out and support the old timers. Always amazing to think that it’s now 40 years plus such a shock to the music business occurred.

Killing Joke- 40th Anniversary at Roundhouse-17/11/2018.

Back at the Roundhouse for the 40th anniversary of “Killing Joke’s” birth. Never seen them before so interested to observe them after a long and checked history

Support was provided by one of my faves of the last couple of years “Phobophobes”. I think they were drafted in last minute just for this last London show. They looked slightly nervous in the large space and were met by an indifferent if not slightly hostile crowd who were clearly there for only one thing.

They rattled through a number of the favourites from the album and did actually get the crowd a little warmed up by the end of their set. At times they had four guitarists playing and the sound has clearly become more layered and nuanced over time.

The reliance on the swirling keyboards of Chris OC has been replaced by a more guitar heavy sound, although difficult to know if that was intentional or due to the sound mix on the evening.

The drummer worked particularly hard to give them as big a sound as possible in the voluminous Roundhouse. Honour was acquitted I think but it was probably not their favourite set ever.

Second support was” Turbowolf”, who live reminded me a bit of “Royal Blood”, possibly due to the fact that they seemed to have lost their bass player somewhere (the band did comment on this but did not provide an answer) With two vocalists sharing duties during the set they are a traditional rock act with nods to more flamboyant showmen like Freddie Mercury or visually the frontman reminds me of Eugene Hutz from “Gogol Bordello”, but slightly more sartorial. They tried to rally the audience and again got some reaction but it wasn’t going to be seen as a triumph.

The audience does deserve some comment. It was a Fat white old bloke dominated audience fixed firmly in the eighties. In fact the audience had not weathered as well as “Killing Joke” themselves. It was significantly follicly challenged and numerous people seemed to be dependent on walking sticks and not just as a fashion statement.

9.15 and the headliners hit the stage. Jaz Coleman has changed his persona over the years and in black boiler suit emblazoned with a large white symbol on the back, was channelling Alice Cooper with black eye make up and shoulder length black hair.

I’m assuming they have mellowed over the years but they lay down the backing tracks with metronomic precision but still with a level of freshness, considering the older songs are 40 years old. Jaz introduced the rest of the band, the original line up of Geordie, Youth and Paul Ferguson thanking them for their support on the tour. He introduced a number of the songs with apocalyptic anecdotes about the power of the deep state and the ineffectual nature of western democracy.

All of this stage craft has clearly been honed over many years but they do retain an edge. They remind me for some reason of a previous incarnation of “The Prodigy”. They are in many ways musically flirting with various forms of dance music to my ears. Even songs such as “80’s” have riffs which played at speed are eminently danceable. As I haven’t followed them since I bought the first album back in the early 1980’s perhaps my views are incorrect or just a statement of the obvious for the more discerning.

The sound they produce is clearly of its time and if you look at reviews of subsequent albums critics can generally find only a couple of decent songs amongst the musical meanderings. One review found the second side of their eponymous first album wanting in this respect to their taste.

On the night they have enough material to deliver a high energy quality performance. After the first song I was questioning why I was there but the next 70 minutes went quickly as I got into the zone. Having been a long week I did leave before the end and the inevitable rendition of “Wardance” which is probably the most famous and evocative of their songs. Pricey ticket so unlikely to see them again but they controlled the room and worth seeing if you can.

 

Set List (courtesy of Setlist.fm)

 

  1. Unspeakable
  2. European Super State
  3. Autonomous Zone
  4. Eighties
  5. New Cold War
  6. Requiem
  7. Bloodsport
  8. Follow the Leaders
  9. Butcher
  10. Loose Cannon
  11. Labyrinth
  12. Corporate Elect
  13. Asteroid
  14. The Wait
  15. Pssyche
  16. The Death and Resurrection Show

Encore:

  1. O.36
  2. Love Like Blood
  3. Wardance
  4. Pandemonium